Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s top in-house lawyer Karen Seymour earned almost $8.37 million in 2019, putting her among the top five highest-paid executives at the financial services giant.
The bulk of Seymour’s remuneration package is comprised of a $1.5 million base salary, $3 million bonus, and more than $3.74 million in stock awards, according to an annual proxy statement Goldman filed March 20. Seymour’s Goldman stock will vest over several years.
Goldman’s proxy credited Seymour with investing “significant time and oversight” in restructuring the company’s legal division, a task that saw her “break down regional and operational silos, reduce expenses, and increase communication.” Seymour also helped Goldman “manage and reduce professional fees and drive efficiencies” by creating the company’s global privacy legal group.
Seymour also led the firm’s litigation and enforcement strategy, and was a key adviser “across a variety of legal, reputational, and other matters,” Goldman’s proxy said.
That includes “an active focus on the resolution of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) matters,” an investigation stemming from a Malaysian corruption scandal that could cost Goldman up to $3.3 billion, according to a recent Bloomberg News report.
Seymour is married to former Sullivan & Cromwell litigation partner Samuel Seymour, who is now of counsel at the law firm. In November, the couple donated $1 million to help build a state-of-the-art lakeside community near Orlando, Fla., for Rollins College, where Seymour’s father-in-law, prominent academic Thaddeus Seymour Sr., served as president. The elder Seymour died in October.
Road to Goldman
A native Texan, Seymour started her career in 1987 as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York. She left private practice three years later to become a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, where Seymour served as chief of the office’s general crimes unit. After a half-dozen years in public service, Seymour returned to Sullivan & Cromwell and made partner at the firm in 2000.
After two years, however, Seymour left again for the SDNY. As chief of its criminal division, she worked for former U.S. Attorney James Comey Jr. and helped prosecute individuals linked to high-profile corporate fraud scandals at Adelphia Communications Corp., ImClone Systems Inc., and WorldCom Inc. Sullivan & Cromwell brought back Seymour for the second time in 2004.
Over the next dozen years Seymour developed a commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense practice at the firm, where she served on its management committee and as co-managing partner of the litigation group. Sullivan & Cromwell has handled almost 15% of Goldman’s outside litigation work since 2007, according to Bloomberg Law data.
Seymour joined Goldman in January 2018 as a partner and co-general counsel, assuming the latter role alongside longtime legal chief Gregory Palm. Seymour spent the next year as co-general counsel until she assumed sole responsibility for Goldman’s worldwide legal affairs upon Palm’s retirement in January 2019.
Bloomberg News reported at the time that Palm earned roughly $500 million during his more than 27 years of service at Goldman. Palm still owns roughly $155 million in Goldman shares, according to Bloomberg data, while Seymour’s more modest stock holdings are currently valued at $522,000.